I really had trouble deciding whether to go with insidious, sinister, or pernicious. Sinister seemed to give him a little too much credit and pernicious not enough. During this time of crisis, it would be oh so nice if James Martin, SJ, could refrain from being a jerk, but it’s just not meant to be. And lest you accuse me of an ad hominem, allow me to show you the evidence. Hardly baseless.
I suggest, first, that you do not read an article summarizing what Archbishop Burke said but read his actual statement in its entirety here: https://www.cardinalburke.com/presentations/combat-against-coronavirus
Next, did Fr. James Martin, SJ, miss a day or two of Catholic 101 along the way? Yes, Father, physical evil entered into the world because of original sin and our own sins allow more and more of it to live on. Seriously, if you follow Fr. Martin, I honestly suggest doing what I do. Never, ever, take anything he says as doctrine without doing a little research yourself.
This from the Catechism (a book James Martin, SJ, apparently isn’t very familiar with):
399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image – that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.
400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”. Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”, for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.”
Does original sin still affect us today? Yes. Does Fr. Martin believe this? I’ll leave that up to you to infer.
The consequences of Adam’s sin for humanity
402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”
403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the “death of the soul”. Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called “sin” only in an analogical sense: it is a sin “contracted” and not “committed” – a state and not an act.
405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
406 The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529) and at the Council of Trent (1546).”
And from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The second effect of sin is to entail the penalty of undergoing suffering (reatus pænæ). Sin (reatus culpæ) is the cause of this obligation (reatus pænæ ). The suffering may be inflicted in this life through the medium of medicinal punishments, calamities, sickness, temporal evils, which tend to withdraw from sin; or it may be inflicted in the life to come by the justice of God as vindictive punishment.
Better suffer now than later, Fr. Martin.
More Catholic understanding from the Catholic Encyclopedia that Fr. Martin doesn’t quite get:
Permission of sin and remedies
Since it is of faith that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all good it is difficult to account for sin in His creation. The existence of evil is the underlying problem in all theology. Various explanations to account for its existence have been offered, differing according to the philosophical principles and religious tenets of their authors. Any Catholic explanation must take into account the defined truths of the omnipotence, omniscience, and goodness of God; free will on the part of man; and the fact that suffering is the penalty of sin. Of metaphysical evil, the negation of a greater good, God is the cause inasmuch as he has created beings with limited forms. Of physical evil (malum pænæ) He is also the cause. Physical evil, considered as it proceeds from God and is inflicted in punishment of sin in accordance with the decrees of Divine justice, is good, compensating for the violation of order by sin. It is only in the subject affected by it that it is evil.
Now, James Martin, SJ, while you have a wee bit of trouble coming up with Catholic teaching, Cardinal Burke does a bang up job of it:
Many with whom I am in communication, reflecting upon the present worldwide health crisis with all of its attendant effects, have expressed to me the hope that it will lead us – as individuals and families, and as a society – to reform our lives, to turn to God Who is surely near to us and Who is immeasurable and unceasing in His mercy and love towards us. There is no question that great evils like pestilence are an effect of original sin and of our actual sins. God, in His justice, must repair the disorder which sin introduces into our lives and into our world. In fact, He fulfills the demands of justice by His superabundant mercy.
As if that weren’t enough:
God has not left us in the chaos and death, which sin introduces into the world, but has sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, rise from the dead and ascend in glory to His right hand, in order to remain with us always, purifying us of sin and inflaming us with His love. In His justice, God recognizes our sins and the need of their reparation, while, in His mercy He showers upon us the grace to repent and make reparation. The Prophet Jeremiah prayed: “We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you,” but he immediately continued his prayer: “For your name’s sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory; remember your covenant with us, and break it not” (Jer 14, 20-21).
As usual, Fr. Martin is simply playing politics here. By cherry picking a bible verse without ever including Catholic teaching on sin, suffering, physical evil, etc., he tries to paint Cardinal Burke as a sophomoric lout. James Martin, SJ, counts on you to never see a Church document as long as you live. Don’t fall for it. I suggest you read this one. I mean the whole thing. Looks like Cardinal Burke is quite familiar with it:
15. When one says that Christ by his mission strikes at evil at its very roots, we have in mind not only evil and definitive, eschatological suffering (so that man “should not perish, but have eternal life”), but also—at least indirectly toil and suffering in their temporal and historical dimension. For evil remains bound to sin and death. And even if we must use great caution in judging man’s suffering as a consequence of concrete sins (this is shown precisely by the example of the just man Job), nevertheless suffering cannot be divorced from the sin of the beginnings, from what Saint John calls “the sin of the world”(29), from the sinful background of the personal actions and social processes in human history. Though it is not licit to apply here the narrow criterion of direct dependance (as Job’s three friends did), it is equally true that one cannot reject the criterion that, at the basis of human suffering, there is a complex involvement with sin.”
Fr. Martin? First, he doesn’t want you to pay attention to sin, and second, he doesn’t want you to think that you have any responsibility for evil existing in the world. He really doesn’t want you to know that, while God doesn’t cause evil, he allows the natural effects of our sins to occur as a remedy for our soul. Sometimes that’s our own concrete, actual sin and sometimes it’s the sin that exists in the world, both of which cause a rupture with all that is good. When Christ said, “Take up your Cross and follow me!”, he meant it. Not really the path we’d end up on with Fr. Martin’s advice. Not entirely sure why he hopes to keep the history of the Church quiet, but he does. Somehow he missed (or intentionally ignored) the saints who lived during “The Plague”, especially their response to it, which was always penance, penance, and more penance. Hmmm…wonder why they would suggest that if sin had nothing to do with it? Most Catholics have heard of St. Charles Borromeo by now. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03619a.htm Do you really believe Fr. Martin doesn’t know about him?
Here’s another good read for these times. Shorter, easier, etc.: